Colombia ride their momentum into semi-finals

Victoria Higgins watched Colombia top the German Women in the tightest quarter-final in the division. Here’s her report.

In episode III of an unintentional Colombian trilogy, a Colombian Women’s team beaten only by the USA so far faced off against Germany to vie for the opportunity to meet the winner of Japan vs. Australia in semi-finals on Friday.

After a tumultuous morning of schedule mishaps due to the torrential downpour, the clouds momentarily parted to allow Colombia to break for the first point of the day. Elizabeth Aguilar Mosquera (#15) got uncharacteristically skied in the endzone by Meryl Kusyk (#10) to put Germany on the map.

In a pleasant surprise, both teams matched up their star players on man defence. Germany’s Kyoko Hosokawa (#89) was everywhere at once, but vaguely wherever Yina Cartagena (#20) went. Colombia placed Mosquera on Germany’s center handler, Yannicka Kappelmann (#8) or Bettina Kieser (#11), so that she could ditch them deep whenever Germany turned the disc over. Momentarily stymied by a German zone formation, Colombia switched the field several times before Eliana Rico (#11) flipped a high-release backhand to Maria Torres Echeverri (#20) in the endzone to maintain their break lead, 3 – 2.

A German defender lays out for the defensive bid. Photo by Andrew Moss.

After much bidding on defence and just-too-far deep looks from both teams, Colombia went up another break to extend their lead, 6 – 4. Hosokawa scored the easy O point, lays out on the mark on Manuela Cardenas (#8), and promptly made herself available in the endzone for bookends, bringing the tally to 6 – 6. The chanting had begun in earnest on the Colombian sideline by this point. Vamos arriba, arriba, arriba. Vamos arriba. The Germans received the disc at 7 – 6 and kept narrowly missing on massive defensive bids. Not much later, Valeria Cardenas (#33) caught a German huck ten feet after it left its thrower’s hands to take half 8 – 7. Eh, eh, epa Colombia! Eh, eh, epa Colombia! Eh, eh, rico rico. Eh eh, eso, eso.

(Apparently this chant, which every Colombia team has been gleefully reciting all week, comes from a satirical Youtube video with some sort of political relevance. The more you know.)

A Colombian player celebrates the quarter-final win over Germany. Photo by Claire Baker.

Colombia broke out synchronized dancing at half-time, seeming to sense a win on the horizon. In the first half, they looked more at ease with the disc and had to work less hard to put points on the board; Mosquera was actually grinning as she cut. Receiving the pull to start, Colombia managed to drop it in their own endzone and give Germany the chance for a crucial break. Germany picked up and anti-climactically turfed the disc on the first swing. Colombia punched it in and, despite a bit of offensive patience perhaps born of overconfidence, managed to stay a few points away from their contenders for the remainder of the half, winning 15 – 12.

But tomorrow Colombia will get a taste of their own medicine when they take on Japan in the semi-finals; at last, here is a team that will match their agility and ability to move the disc at a dizzying pace. Unlike Colombia, Japan have not blinked against an opponent in their previous matches and, unlike Colombia, Japan can rely upon their entire roster to make big plays. Colombia will need to stay calm in the face of Japan’s tight defence and alarmingly loud sideline presence in order to continue playing the exceptional Ultimate they have shown the international stage this week.

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